One the biggest challenges of living in a consumer society is to determine the lifestyle the Lord wants for us. The Bible does not prescribe one standard of living for everyone. In Scripture, godly people are represented in all walks of life, and the Lord still places His people strategically in every level of society – rich and poor.
Ask the Lord to help you evaluate and even wrestle (in a healthy way) with your standard of living. To stimulate your thinking, let’s examine several principles that should influence your lifestyle.
Learn to be content.
The word “contentment” is mentioned six times in Scripture – and five of those times it has to do with money. Paul wrote, “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:11-13).
Read through this passage more than once, noting that Paul “learned” to be content. Contentment isn’t something we’re born with; it is something we learn. There are two elements to contentment:
1. Know how God wants you to handle the assets He has entrusted to you.
2. Be faithful to do what He wants with them.
Note carefully that it’s not just knowing these things that brings contentment; it is doing them. As author Francis Schaeffer said, “These two words, know and do, occur throughout Scripture and always in that order. We cannot do until we know, but we can know without doing. The house built on the rock is the house of the man who knows and does. The house built on the sand is the house of the man who knows but does not do.”
Once we have been faithful in the doing, we can be content in knowing that our loving heavenly Father will entrust us with the precise possessions He knows will be best for us at any particular time.
Biblical contentment is not to be equated with laziness, social insensitivity or apathy. Because we serve the living and dynamic God, Christians should always be improving, growing, and “pressing on toward the goal” as Paul put it in Philippians 3:14. Contentment in no way excludes properly motivated ambition. I believe that we should have the burning desire to be increasingly faithful stewards of the talents and possessions He has entrusted to us.
Biblical contentment is an inner peace that accepts what God has chosen for our present vocation, station in life, and financial state. Hebrews 13:5 emphasizes this: “Make sure your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, ‘I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you.’”
Freely enjoy whatever you spend in the “spirit.”
Prayerfully submit spending decisions to the Lord. Seeking the Lord’s direction in spending does not mean that we will never spend for anything other than a basic necessity. During the Christmas season several years ago, my wife asked me to purchase a gift that I considered extravagant. However, I promised to seek the Lord’s direction. As we prayed, He made it clear that we should purchase the item, which we have thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated. “For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude” (1 Timothy 4:4). Study the last part of 1 Timothy 6:17, “God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.”
We aren’t to feel guilty when the Lord gives us the freedom to buy something. Remember, the Lord has entrusted you with assets. You’re responsible for managing this wealth in a way that pleases Him. The Lord has given you freedom to spend but not license to spend carelessly.
When you consider a purchase, ask yourself why you want it. Is it a healthy pleasure, or are you just trying to impress others? How will it help you reach your life goals? Seek the Lord for His direction.